The HR Specialist: North Carolina Employment Law

Sometimes, people don’t realize the language they are using may be offensive to members of a protected class. That can happen when a term has been in use for decades or even centuries and has become separated from its original meaning or context. Consider a recent case involving usage of the term “tar baby.”

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This is the time of year when college students start serving summer internships. Often, students offer to work without pay just to get the experience. But does this influx of possible free labor carry hidden risks? Perhaps …

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Alert for employers settling workers’ comp lawsuits—or any other kind: When negotiations are completed, make sure the dollar amount written into the agreement is the one everyone agreed to!

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It used to be that an employee who continued to suffer any pain following a work-related injury could continue receiving workers’ compensation payments until she was fully healed. Now, however, Industrial Commission judges are getting tougher on pain that isn’t backed up by medical evidence. That’s good news …

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What’s worse than not having a noncompete agreement? One that doesn’t meet North Carolina’s strict requirements—and gets tossed out of court. Avoid this problem by having a North Carolina attorney draft agreements.

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Wal-Mart wasn’t wearing its smiley face when it agreed to pay a class of African-American truck driver applicants $17.5 million in a race discrimination suit. The drivers alleged Wal-Mart failed to hire and promote black drivers in proportion to the number who applied.

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A Clemmons Burger King is the latest fish caught in the EEOC’s teen sexual harassment net. Burger King will pay $85,000 to a teenage employee who was subject to unwanted touching, sexual advances and requests for sexual favors from the store’s general manager.

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Coupled with the stress of worrying about the economy and whether their jobs will be gone tomorrow, more employees may develop psychiatric or stress-related illnesses. Some will file workers’ compensation claims.

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Ever since 2006, when the U.S. Supreme Court’s Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad Co. v. White decision made it easier to prove retaliation, employees are trying to push the envelope on what constitutes retaliation. Slowly, employers are getting answers.

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Employees who are having work troubles sometimes think they can prevent being fired by asking for FMLA leave. Their ace in the hole if they are fired: They can always sue for retaliation under the FMLA. That only works if those responsible for the termination decision actually know that the employee has asked for FMLA leave …

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